Chapter 8 – Road Trip

Today we went on a long road trip northeast to the edge of Algonquin National Park. I rode in style in my uncle-in-law’s jaguar with the roof down…I even wore a proper Canadian sun hat to mark the occasion. We made a few stops on the way to break up the journey and see a few sights.

First we stopped at a town called Stratford…which happens to be on the river Avon. The sign at the entrance to the town says ‘Welcome to Stratford, home of the Stratford theatre festival and pork conference’. They clearly like Shakespeare very much as they decorated the bins with his face.

To bin or not to bin...
To bin or not to bin…
Stratford Normal School... For normal people...
Stratford Normal School… For normal people…

Next we stopped at a gas station for a quick coffee and loo break. It seems Catrin has worked out how to jump the queue without breaking queueing rules (as we are British and view queueing as a national sport). Whilst waiting in the loo queue, she suddenly displayed her pants to everyone, singing ‘I’m wearing my new knickers’, then shouted ‘I need a poo’. The ladies in the line all turned to see what the shouting was about and the lady at the front asked ‘Would you like to go first?’ with lots of unanimous nodding from the rest of the queue. They probably didn’t want to see Catrin’s new knickers or hear about her bowel movements anymore and I ushered her into the toilet cubicle with a red face, apologising as I went.

Our journey took us through Alliston, where it was ‘potato festival weekend’. I like potatoes but I’m not sure they are entertaining or interesting enough to provide a whole weekend of festival activities.

We had lunch at Tim Hortons (a Canadian coffee shop chain which appears to be more popular than any other purveyor of food and drink here). Bethan liked the cheese toastie and the freshly cooked kettle chips were great…I am really surprised that there isn’t a Tim Hortons on the corner of every street outside of Canada as they are so popular (and their Oreo doughnuts are so tasty).

Cheese toastie...disappeared before your very eyes
Cheese toastie…disappeared before your very eyes

As we travelled even further north on Highway 11, the trees were more alpine and the terrain became rockier. There were huge billboards every few hundred metres advertising services and attractions, such as Moose FM ‘bringing the wattage into your cottage’ and Santa’s village (festive fun for all the family, all year round).

We headed to the bar for a drink when we arrived at our hotel (Hidden Valley resort) on the edge of the wilderness. We sat on the terrace overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and the lake, listening to the tannoy playing ‘I’m Henery the 8th, I am, I am’. The pool turned out to be toasty, like swimming in a bath and (I’m reliably informed) the lake is also warm.

View from the bar terrace
View from the bar terrace

Tomorrow we head into Algonquin National Park for a bit of exploring, armed with bug spray and provisions…and, hopefully, a map.

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